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Fishing gear protection is crucial for both inland and marine capture fisheries. However, abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) can lead to negative impacts on ecosystems. Fishing gear marking (FGM) is a tool that can help address ALDFG by indicating the ownership of fishing gear. In this study, we compared the durability of three types of FGM materials – stainless steel (SS), colored acrylic (CA), and plastic tape (PT). The experiments were conducted in the Andaman Sea off Phang Nga Province, Thailand between July 2020 and May 2021.
Fishing Gear Importance
Gillnets are widely used fishing gears in both inland and marine capture fisheries due to their cost-effectiveness and ease of operation. There are various types of gillnets, such as crab gillnets, fish gillnets, shrimp gillnets, and jellyfish gillnets. These gillnets are constructed using net webbing, headrope, and footrope, with floats and lead weights to adjust their shape and position in the water column. The lifespan of gillnets varies depending on factors such as durability, degree of damage, and environmental conditions. For example, crab gillnets have a lifespan of 1-2 months, while fish gillnets can last 12-24 months. However, gillnets are often abandoned, lost, or discarded, leading to ghost fishing and entanglement of aquatic life.
Fishing Gear Marking
Fishing gear marking (FGM) is recommended as a measure to identify the ownership of fishing gear and address ALDFG. The FAO has established the Voluntary Guidelines on the Marking of Fishing Gear (VGMFG) to combat and eliminate ALDFG. FGM practices have been applied in various fisheries around the world using materials such as stainless steel clamps, plastic bottles, and polyurethane foam sheets. However, FGM practice has not been enforced in Thai waters, except for Thai fishing vessels operating outside Thai waters.
Objective of the Study
The main objective of this study was to compare the durability of three material types of FGM – stainless steel, colored acrylic, and plastic tape. The study focused on gillnets operated by small-scale fishers in the Andaman Sea off Phang Nga Province, Thailand. The results of the study are expected to support the development of FGM practices to alleviate ALDFG and promote responsible fisheries.
The experiment was conducted in the fishing grounds of crab and fish gillnets in the Andaman Sea off Phang Nga Province. Small-scale crab and fish gillnet fishers in Thap Lamu, Phang Nga Province regularly operated gillnets in these fishing grounds and were targeted for this study. The experiment involved the use of three material types of FGM – stainless steel, colored acrylic, and plastic tape. The durability of these FGM materials was compared between crab and fish gillnets.
The study found that the durability of the three material types of FGM was different between crab and fish gillnets. Stainless steel and colored acrylic had higher durability than plastic tape for both crab and fish gillnets. Most FGMs were removed from the headrope of gillnets during the fishing operation, while some FGMs lasted until the end of the gillnets’ lifespan. The durability of FGMs for crab gillnets was less than three months, while for fish gillnets, it was less than seven months.
Based on the results of the study, it is recommended to further develop FGM practices to alleviate ALDFG and support responsible fisheries. This can include the use of more durable materials for FGMs and the implementation of FGM systems in Thai waters. Additionally, there is a need to track the origin of lost gillnets and improve the identification of fishing gear ownership. These measures can help reduce the negative impacts of ALDFG on ecosystems and promote sustainable fishing practices.
Conclusion – Fishing Gear Protection
Fishing gear marking is an important tool in addressing abandoned, lost, or discarded fishing gear and promoting responsible fisheries. This study compared the durability of three material types of FGM for crab and fish gillnets in the Andaman Sea off Phang Nga Province, Thailand. The study found that stainless steel and colored acrylic had higher durability than plastic tape. The results of this study can contribute to the development of FGM practices and support efforts to alleviate ALDFG in Thai waters.
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